Monday, May 19, 2008
EBRD takes Siberia stake
19 May 2008 - Upstream OnLine - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said it would buy an $85 million minority stake in East Siberian oil company Irkutsk as part of its plan to invest in energy efficiency projects. The EBRD, which says improving energy efficiency and boosting agricultural output are key to combatting soaring prices, said the investment would allow Irkutsk Oil Company to cut greenhouse gas emissions from oil fields. "The project is in line with the government's drive to slash drastically the wasteful and environmentally damaging flaring of gas, which, according to some estimates, burns up to 5% of Russia's total gas output," the company said in a statement, Reuters reported. Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is the world's largest gas producer, supplying a quarter of Europe's needs. "According to the World Bank, Russia flares more gas than any other nation, having in the last decade overtaken Nigeria," the EBRD said. The EBRD will take an 8.15% stake in the holding company for the privately-owned Irkutsk Oil, via a new share issue in a rare investment in the Russian oil and gas sector. The investment values Irkutsk at over $1 billion. The bank did not reveal the names of the owners of Irkutsk, nor did it say whether the company might eventually go public. The firm will cut greenhouse gas emissions by re-injecting gas produced alongside oil instead of flaring it. Russia's government wants oil companies to cut associated gas flaring to 5% of total output by 2011 from around 40% now. Analysts say East Siberia will over time rival Russia's main oil and gas producing region West Siberia, but the country needs to invest billions of dollars into new pipelines and roads. Irkutsk Oil is working jointly with Gazprom on a gasification programme for the Irkutsk region. Gas re-injection will also allow it to boost oil recovery.